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Posts Tagged ‘mexican food’

Sabor a Mexico, Another New Local “Joint”…And This One Healthy!

Posted by Tony & Cheri on June 2, 2010

Update 9/5/10: We’re sorry to say that this little gem of a restaurant is now closed, another apparent victim of the drop in tourism. We wish Karmen the best of luck in future endeavors and sure hope she opens another restaurant at some point in the future.

We had the pleasure of eating lunch yesterday at a new spot on the other end of town from us, but one we’re sure to return to again. It’s called Sabor a Mexico. Located on Calle 4 between Avenidas 20 & 25 (a block from Kalaka, another of our favorite spots), it’s a few blocks out of the tourist zone, but worth the stroll.

Sabor a MexicoOwned by a beautiful and energetic young woman named Karmen, Sabor a Mexico looks like many small Mexican eateries, but cuter and cleaner. We were introduced to Karmen over the phone by our friend Mayte (former owner of Bloody Chicas & current owner of local favorite watering hole El Bar) when we were trying to find someone to cater a private event we’re having in a couple of weeks. We decided to stop by Karmen’s restaurant and see if her food is as good as Mayte said it was.

Happily, we weren’t disappointed. Sabor a Mexico was opened by Karmen about four months ago and features food from central Mexico. What makes this spot different from many others is Karmen’s focus on her dishes. As she explained, her food is “saludable” or healthy. She uses a minimum of fat in her cooking and very little pork. Everything is prepared with a focus on healthy eating–or as healthy as Mexican food can be. 🙂

We both decided to try the comida del dia, or meal of the day. This sort of eating is often also called “comida corrida” and generally consists of a complete meal including starter, entree and beverage (and sometimes dessert) for one price. Sabor a Mexico‘s comida del dia started with a chicken noodle soup followed by our choice of four entrees and included rice, beans, tortillas and unlimited fruit water (first lemonade then later jamaica). Tony had the meatball soup, and Cheri had the picadillo de res. Both were delicious and obviously fresh and well-prepared. We ate a full meal yet walked away not feeling completely stuffed like we normally do after a Mexican meal. And the price of our lunch was only $90 pesos–about $7 US–for both of us. There are cocktails on 5th Avenue that cost more than that! There were other items on the menu as well that we’ll likely try our next time there.

After lunch we talked with Karmen a bit about what she could do for us for the event. She described some of her other specialties, was extremely organized, took notes, and said she would call us the next day with a price quote. She showed up at the hotel this morning with a list of all the different dishes she suggested as well as a “presupuesto” (or quote) that was very reasonable. She seemed like she’d been doing this forever, but when we asked if she had done an event like this before, she said it was her first, but that she had two more events later in the month. We were very happy, told her she had a deal and said we’d talk in a few days.

It was a delight to find such a pleasant little spot owned by someone who clearly cares about good food and good health.

Sabor a Mexico is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm. We’ll be returning soon to try breakfast.

If you’re looking for healthy but delicious food prepared with care, check out Sabor a Mexico.

Sopa de Albondigas

Sabor a Mexico

Picadillo de Res

Posted in Dining in Playa, Friends, Recommendations, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Luna Blue Hotel & Bar Proudly Sponsors Taste of Playa

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 1, 2009

Taste of Playa 2009We at the Luna Blue Hotel & Luna Blue Bar are proud to be Executive Sponsors of a new community culinary event happening this coming Saturday September 5, Taste of Playa. Taste of Playa promises to be a world-class culinary event. Top level chefs from the best restaurants in the area will be creating samples of their best dishes for the public to try at very reasonable prices. Local select food vendors will also be selling their specialty food products. And local bars will be showcasing some fine wines and tequilas, as well.

This is the first time we’ve put our sponsorship behind any major commercial event in Playa, but this one spoke to us on a couple of different levels. First off, Taste of Playa is a community focused event. When we asked one of the organizers why this event isn’t being held in high season, but rather one of the slowest times in the tourist year, the answer was, “We wanted the focus to be on the community, not on the tourists.” As most of you probably know, Mexico has been hard hit this year with tales of drug wars and most recently, the overblown media hype called swine flu. Our little part of Mexico has seen a huge decline in tourism since May, as scared tourists stayed away. While swine flu was never a problem in this area, the resulting drop is tourism has been a tough blow for many locals. Many small businesses have closed for the season and some permanently. Many, many local people have lost their jobs and are struggling just to feed their families. We liked the idea of supporting an event with a focus on the people of Playa. We felt that such a unique event would draw many people to Playa, and the more people who come to Playa and spend tourist dollars, the more the locals are able to get back to their normal lives. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from this year’s Taste of Playa will be used to provide a year’s worth of safe drinking water to a local school.

The other reason we wanted to support Taste of Playa is purely personal. Having come from San Francisco, a food-lover’s paradise, we both love to eat. One of the great things about living in Playa del Carmen is that Playa has become a place to find fantastic food. Some of the high end restaurants in Playa easily equal those we’ve come to love in San Francisco. Even many of the mid range restaurants have some amazing food. And we believe that some of the best food one could ever have can be found at the cheap off-the-beaten-path eateries just a few blocks outside the main tourist zone. We figured if all of this came together in one spot, how great would that be??

“VIP Passports” to Taste of Playa are currently being sold at only two venues: at our hotel, the Luna Blue, on Calle 26 between 5th Avenue and 10th Avenue and Tropical Casablanca Hotel, on Avenida 1 between Calles 10 and 12. VIP passports cost $400 pesos each and entitle the bearer to one “taste” from each table/restaurant. Only a limited number of passports will be sold, so if you’re going to be in town and plan on being hungry Saturday afternoon, you may want to pick one up ahead of time. The event will be held at Parque Fundadores, the gorgeous little park down near the Cozumel ferry at the south end of town, from 3-9 pm. However, VIP Passport holders will be allowed entrance at 2 pm. If you have limited time or money, Taste of Playa “Pesos” will also be sold at the cost of $10 pesos each. Each “taste” will cost either 1 or 2 “Pesos,” or about $.80 to $1.60 US–a very reasonable price. A list of participating restaurants can be found here.

The event will also feature music and other surprises. If you’re in town and love to eat, don’t miss it. If you’re not in town, you might think about a last minute trip. We think Taste of Playa will be one of the best events of the year, and we’re proud to be associated with it.

Posted in Activities, Dining in Playa, Events & Happenings, Recommendations, The Hotel & Bar, The Love of Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Eating Like a Local: Hacienda La Herradura & La Route des Vins

Posted by Tony & Cheri on April 1, 2009

One of the things we love about Playa del Carmen is that it is always changing and reinventing itself. Seems like every week we walk by a new restaurant, shop or bar and say, “Wow, where did that come from??” There’s always something new to explore. And for those of us who like to eat, there are always new restaurants to try.

We recently ventured out, in our never ending R&D roles (we love our jobs!) and tried two of Playa’s newest restaurants:

Hacienda La Herradura

Hacienda La HerraduraJust half a block from our hotel, the Luna Blue Hotel & Garden, on the corner of 10th Avenue and Calle 26, is a great new spot, Hacienda La Herradura. We ate here for the first time when our friends Sarah & Adam were in town a few weeks ago and have since been back again with other friends and a couple of times on our own. We were pleasantly surprised each time. They have a large menu, very good food, great service and reasonable prices–who could ask for more? The first time we went we were given a free round of interesting house drinks when we arrived – pink ones for the girls (a tequila, coconut, pineapple drink) and green ones for the boys (a tequila, midori, lime concoction). We don’t know if this is standard practice since this is a new spot or simply because we introduced ourselves as their neighbors, but it was a welcome treat, and the drinks were interesting. The second time we went, the management also brought us two rounds of tequila shots after our meal, all on the house. Not a bad marketing ploy! 🙂

The menu is Mexican, with an Argentinian influence. Their entradas, or starters, range in price from $30 to $85 pesos. We were amazed to find one of our very favorite Mexican dishes on the appetizer menu, Chiles en Nogada. This is a wonderful dish that you normally only find at Christmastime, as it is usually made with pomegranate, something that is only found here at that time of year. We ordered the Chiles en Nogada (sans pomegranate) and an order of guacamole. Both were excellent.

They also have two soups and several salads on the menu. The Ensalada del Mediterraneo con arrachera ($75 pesos) was large enough for a main course, and the arrachera was some of the best we’ve ever had in Playa, rivaling HC de Monterrey!

They have an assortment of tacos on their menu, six chicken and six pork dishes, eight fish dishes and some pasta dishes. They also have a nice array of outstanding steaks, ranging from the standard arrachera to Rib Eye, T-Bone and New York steak. All of us were pleased with the quality and quantity of food that we ordered. The most expensive single-person dish on the menu is $150 pesos, and most dishes are far less than that.

Yesterday we stopped by for some lunch on our way to do some shopping. Tony had the tacos de arrachera and Cheri had the breaded shrimp tacos. Both were extremely good and super cheap (30 pesos for three arrachera tacos and 40 pesos for three shrimp tacos). So far this place has been excellent every time we’ve been. This is destined to become like La Pesca to us…one of our regular haunts. The fact that it’s so close to the hotel is just an added bonus!

La Route des Vins

La Route des VinsJust around the corner from the hotel on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Calle 28 is a large, airy restaurant with European style cuisine called La Route des Vins. The menu is very unusual for Playa and in our opinion, very welcome, adding to Playa’s image as a city of the world. La Route des Vins offers an extensive menu of tartines (pastries and breads with fillings and toppings); toasts (little pieces of bread with various toppings); mussels in a number of different presentations, crepes, salads and several types of fondues (meat, cheese, chocolate and more).

The portions are quite large, even the appetizers. We regretted not having split one. We ordered a cheese fondue to share for our main course, and it was still almost too much for two people. The fondue we ordered was the “country” fondue with multiple cheeses, bacon and mushrooms mixed in with the cheese. This was accompanied by a large plate of toasted bread pieces, slices of sausage and little potatoes for dipping. The service was very attentive, and one of the owners came by to make sure we were being taken care of. There is an extensive wine list, along with wine specials of the day.

This is one of a number of restaurants that the owners are opening throughout Mexico. As we were told, they are bringing through their “A Team” to set up their restaurant before setting up the next location. It will be interesting to see if when the local team takes over, the food, service, etc. stays at the same high level.

The restaurant is a pleasant corner building with huge doors that are opened to allow a feeling that you’re sitting outside on Fifth Avenue. It’s bright and airy.

The prices are reasonable and midrange. We felt that for the amount and quality of food, it was a good deal. Next time–and there will be a next time–we’ll skip the appetizer to save room for some of that chocolate fondue. 🙂 But then again, La Route des Vins is right across the street from our very favorite (and well-priced) gelato store, Corsi. Either way, dessert is covered!

Here are some photos of our dining experiences in these two new restaurants:

Two of the pretty servers at Hacienda La Herradura

Hacienda La Herradura dining room

One of the fish dishes at Hacienda La Herradura

Chicken Cordon Bleu at Hacienda La Herradura

One of our favorites, Chiles en Nogada, at Hacienda La Herradura

Ensalada Mediterranean with arrachera, at Hacienda La Herradura

A tartine appetizer – WOW – at La Route des Vins

Another appetizer at La Route des Vins – cheese and salmon toasts

Cheese fondue (country style) & dippers at La Route des Vins

Cheese fondue up close at La Route des Vins

Just across the street from La Route des Vins….
our favorite gelato place, Corsi

Posted in Dining in Playa, Recommendations, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »